Rare snake sparks biosecurity threat in Queensland
A SOUTHSIDE property is at the centre of a hunt for a rare foreign snake which has sparked a biosecurity emergency this morning.
Four Biosecurity Queensland officers, dressed in biosecurity jackets, converged on the Park Ridge property after reports an orange and black American corn snake was spotted in a backyard.
Logan snake catcher Glenn Ozzie Lawrence was sent a video of the snake and rushed to the site this morning.
He feared the slippery reptile could be his worst nightmare putting southeast Queensland on the cusp of the biggest ecological disaster since the introduction of the cane toad.
An elderly couple, who wanted to remain anonymous, reported seeing the snake at their Beck St property, which was part of a new estate, between Park Ridge Rd and Chambers Flat Rd.
They sent Mr Lawrence video footage of the rare American corn snake slithering under their fence at a Park Ridge house this week.
He said he was stunned to see video footage from the Park Ridge household showing the pink-orange-coloured snake sliding under a neighbour's fence and disappearing into the garden.
Biosecurity Queensland was notified and the four officers went to the property this morning.
"The snake could have possibly been smuggled or from licensed owners illegally breeding and dumping it in an act of environmental vandalism," he said.
"All I know is that it is not an escaped pet and there is an illegal black market in Queensland.
"I couldn't believe what I was seeing on my phone.
"I'd heard about these species being seen a couple of rare times recently in Australia but I was still shocked.
"Without the mandatory licensing required to keep reptiles as pets, it's impossible to monitor who's got what and dumping unwanted or unsellable reptiles into the bush.
"This is a massive biosecurity breach for our wildlife."
Biosecurity Queensland said officers who attended the Park Ridge housing development this morning were unsuccessful in finding the snake.
"If released into the wild in Australia, corn snakes could prey on and out-compete native species," Biosecurity Queensland said.
"To prevent them from establishing in Queensland, restrictions apply to their import, possession and sale."
Australia has strict quarantine procedures at airports to stop foreign insects or eggs being brought into the country in a holidaymaker's luggage.
Mr Lawrence said there was a big black market trade in the American corn snakes because they made good pets, had simple diets and were not venomous.
He said a baby American Corn snake could fetch upwards of $800 on the black market and a pregnant female could be worth $24,000.
Despite not being lethal to humans, Mr Lawrence said the snake could kill Australian native wildlife and compared it to the scourge of introduced species such as rabbits or cane toads.
Australia has the perfect environment and climate for the snake to survive and thrive.
It can reach up to 1.5m, is an egg layer of up to 30 eggs and reaches sexual maturity in two years.
American corn snakes are easily recognisable due to their unique colouring which primarily consists of orange, red and yellow.
As the snake matures, its colours intensify unlike many Australian species.
Mr Lawrence said having one on the loose could throw the natural environment off balance, causing problems for native wildlife and agriculture.